CLEARFIELD — The Three Musketeers is a popular story, having been made into numerous films, plays, comics, cartoons, and other stories. The production put on by Clearfield Community Arts is a play written by Ken Ludwig, which premiered in 2006. It follows the well known story of d’Artagnan, the young man who leaves home in order to go and join the Musketeers, the soldiers of the King. In this adaptation, d’Artagnan has a kid sister, Sabine, who is coming along to Paris in order to go to school in a convent. As they travel, d’Artagnan angers each of the Three Musketeers: Athos, Porthos, and Aramis. From there, we see the story unfold where eventually d’Artagnan becomes allies with the three in order to fight the evil cardinal and his guards, as well as the bewitching yet devious Milady, in order to protect the Queen, King, and the lovely Constance. The show is full of action, drama, tragedy, and a surprising amount of comedy.
Clearfield Community Arts has put together a wonderful production, directed by Liz Christensen. One of the many things I was impressed of in regards to Christensen’s direction was the use of the space at the amphitheater, not just the stage. Much of the show’s action happened behind the seating, or in the aisles. I had attended the production with my five-year-old daughter, and she was quite excited and impressed when a sword fight happened right next to our seats.
Which brings me to my next commendation of the show, the sword fighting, which were a highlight of the evening. Justin Lee is credited with the fight direction, and his bio states that he studied stage combat at the University of Utah. At one moment in the show, a sword was slashed toward the cement stage, and it actually sparked. It was then that I realized they were using actual swords in the production, which only adds to my praise. Each of the actors that engaged in the sword fighting did so well that I am certain there was a great deal of rehearsing put into it, and I hope to see more shows that use Lee’s skills in stage combat direction.
The set was beautifully designed by Bryan Christensen, with credit also going to the cast and the crew. The stage had a castle tower as well as a church entrance, and then several platforms used for various scenes. The stage was also well decorated with flags representing both the Musketeers and the Cardinal and his men. Finally for the technical aspects, I must mention the costumes. Costume design credit goes to Nita Smith, and she has certainly done a fine job of capturing 17th century France. I was impressed with the high quality of the costuming, from the Musketeers outfits, to the beautiful dresses at the ball. I was also impressed with the little touches, such as shoes and jewelry and hair pieces. This are aspects often forgotten in community theater productions, however Ms. Smith worked hard to make sure that all characters were completely representing the appropriate time period.
As for the acting, this was also superb. I loved the comedic timing, and general pacing of the show. I had been nervous that my daughter might get bored, however when the show was over she said, “That was very good. I was never bored. You should tell them that in your review.” I was particularly impressed with the character of Milady, played by Tiffany Stoddard. Stoddard has a deep speaking voice, and was able to manipulate her voice pattern in order to sound truly malicious. There is a moment in the production where she is disguising herself in order to appear to be a good person, and I was completely impressed by the transformation. I was pretty sure it was the same woman, but I had to check the program to make sure, as her transformation was so complete.
I also must praise the Three Musketeers themselves, Athos, played by Eric Millward, Porthos, played by Brandon Garlick, and Aramis, played by Justin Lee. Each of the characters has their signature, such as Porthos being a “slave to fashion,” which Garlick played with great comedic flair. I was also impressed with the sweet arrogance shown by Lee as Aramis whenever he would quote a religious scripture. Finally, I really felt that Millward was able to show the wisdom and steadfastness of the character Athos.
The addition of the sister Sabine was an interesting choice by the playwright, and I was able to buy into the storyline well based on the brotherly sisterly relationship displayed by d’Artagnan, played by Brian Hill, and Sabine, played by Allyson Saunders. I felt that they could really have been siblings, as is common in community theater, and was surprised when checking the program that it was not so. I also enjoyed with the romantic relationship displayed by Hill and Constance, played by Elinor Smith.
I was highly entertained by this production. Not to give away any plot, but I do feel there was a death scene that I felt was one of the most amusing yet well acted death scenes I have ever seen on the amateur stage. I also liked that there were a variety of ages in the audience, and yet even the youngest of children appeared to be engaged. I would encourage readers in Davis County to grab the family and go enjoy this show before it closes.